Microsoft on the Issues

  • The Browser Choice Screen for Europe: What to Expect, When to Expect It

    Posted by Dave Heiner Vice President and Deputy General Counsel ( If you would like more information about the browser choice screen on your computer, or if you have a technical issue with the update, the Windows team has prepared a page you...
  • Working to Fulfill our Legal Obligations in Europe for Windows 7

    UPDATE: June 11, 2009 – 5:30 p.m. Pacific Posted by Dave Heiner Vice President and Deputy General Counsel [Update to my original post earlier today below - I’ve added more historical context for readers who might be new to the issue...
  • Windows 7 and Browser Choice in Europe

    Posted by Dave Heiner Vice President and Deputy General Counsel A week ago the European Commission said it welcomed our proposal to provide Windows users a “consumer ballot screen” to select the Web browser of their choice to surf...
  • Android Patent Infringement: Licensing is the Solution

    Posted by Horacio Gutierrez
    Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel

    Microsoft files legal actions against Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec in the U.S. International Trade Commission and U.S. District Court over alleged patent infringement.

  • Microsoft sues Motorola over Android patent infringements

    Posted by Horacio Gutierrez
    Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel

    As many of you may have seen, Microsoft filed an action today in the International Trade Commission and in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against Motorola, Inc. for infringement of nine Microsoft patents by Motorola’s Android-based smartphones.  We have released a press statement about our suit, but I thought I would provide a bit more context here around the innovations infringed by Motorola’s Android-based smartphones and how our suit fits into ongoing developments in the smartphone space.

    As we all know, smartphones have become an integral part of people’s daily lives and are used for a variety of tasks beyond making phone calls; from watching video and listening to music to staying in touch with family and friends. The Microsoft innovations at issue in this case help make smartphones “smart.”  Indeed, our patents relate to key features that users have come to expect from every smartphone.  The ability to send and receive email on-the-go has driven smartphone adoption.  Nowadays, everyone expects to receive e-mail from multiple services in real time, to read it on their phones, and to reply or send new messages out – in continuous and seamless synchronization with their email services.  Microsoft’s Exchange ActiveSync, a proprietary technology that we developed, makes this possible. 

    But people manage more than email from their devices, they manage their lives.  Users can not only send and receive email from smartphones; they can also manage their calendars.  Their phones will remind them of appointments and allow them to schedule new ones.  Similarly, users maintain lists of contacts on their phones, so that they can easily stay connected – by phone, text message, or email – to the people they interact with most.  Again, our technology enables people to see their calendar and email contacts on their phone, and to manage their calendar and contacts from whatever device they are using.

    People use smartphones for much more as well:  they surf the web, play music and videos, and run apps.  Consumers expect more and more from their smartphones every day, making their phones resemble not so much a phone as a handheld computer.  Of course, for certain apps to run efficiently on handheld devices, they must be notified of changes in signal strength and battery power and the device must manage memory for storing data.  Given the wide range of functionality smartphones offer, they also need to be able to display relevant choices for users efficiently.  Microsoft’s patented technologies tackle all of these challenges.

  • Adding our Voice to Concerns about Search in Europe

    Posted by Brad Smith
    Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation

    Microsoft is filing a formal complaint with the European Commission as part of the Commission’s ongoing investigation into whether Google has violated European competition law. We thought it important to be transparent and provide some information on what we’re doing and why.

    At the outset, we should be among the first to compliment Google for its genuine innovations, of which there have been many over the past decade.  As the only viable search competitor to Google in the U.S. and much of Europe, we respect their engineering prowess and competitive drive.  Google has done much to advance its laudable mission to “organize the world’s information,” but we’re concerned by a broadening pattern of conduct aimed at stopping anyone else from creating a competitive alternative.

    We’ve therefore decided to join a large and growing number of companies registering their concerns about the European search market.  By the European Commission’s own reckoning, Google has about 95 percent of the search market in Europe.  This contrasts with the United States, where Microsoft serves about a quarter of Americans’ search needs either directly through Bing or through our partnership with Yahoo!. 

  • The Need for Global Collective Defense on the Internet

    Posted by Scott Charney
    Corporate Vice President, Trustworthy Computing
     
    For more than two decades, people have struggled to understand the cyber threat, evaluate the risks to individuals, organizations (including nation-states), and society at large, and craft appropriate responses. Although many organizations have invested significantly in information assurance, most computer security experts believe that a well-resourced and persistent adversary will more often than not be successful in attacking systems, especially if raising defenses is the only response to an attack. For this reason, increasing attention is being paid to deterring such attacks in the first instance, especially by governments that have the power to investigate criminal activity and use a wide range of tools to respond to other public safety and national security concerns.
     
    Notwithstanding this emerging discussion, it appears to many people that neither governments nor industry are well-positioned to respond to this highly complex threat and that, from a policy and tactical perspective, there is considerable paralysis. In my Rethinking Cyber Threats and Strategies paper I discuss a framework for categorizing and assessing cyber threats, the problem with attribution, and possible ways for society to prevent and respond to cyber threats.
     
    In my speech today at the International Security Solutions Europe (ISSE) Conference in Berlin, Germany, I proposed one possible approach to addressing botnets and other malware impacting consumer machines.  This approach involves implementing a global collective defense of Internet health much like what we see in place today in the world of public health. I outline my vision in a new position paper Microsoft is publishing today titled “Collective Defense: Applying Public Health Models to the Internet.”

  • Microsoft’s New Patent Agreement with Compal: A New Milestone for Our Android Licensing Program

    Posted by Brad Smith and Horacio Gutierrez
    Executive Vice President and General Counsel & Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

    Today, Microsoft announced its tenth license agreement providing coverage under our patent portfolio for Android mobile phones and tablets. Today's agreement is with Compal, one of the world’s largest Original Design Manufacturers, or ODMs. Compal is based in Taiwan, where it produces smartphones and tablet computers for third parties and has revenue of roughly $28 billion per year.

    [Read more...]

  • Google: Please Don’t Kill Video on the Web

    Posted by Dave Heiner
    Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Corporate Standards & Antitrust Group, Microsoft

    Earlier today, Microsoft filed a formal competition law complaint with the European Commission (EC) against Motorola Mobility and Google. We have taken this step because Motorola is attempting to block sales of Windows PCs, our Xbox game console and other products. Their offense? These products enable people to view videos on the Web and to connect wirelessly to the Internet using industry standards.

    You probably take for granted that you can view videos on your smartphone, tablet, PC, or DVD/Blu-ray player and connect to the Internet without being tied to a cable. That works because the industry came together years ago to define common technical standards that every firm can use to build compatible products for video and Wi-Fi. Motorola and all the other firms that contributed to these standards also made a promise to one another: that if they had any patents essential to the standards, they would make their patents available on fair and reasonable terms, and would not use them to block competitors from shipping their products.

    Motorola has broken its promise. Motorola is on a path to use standard essential patents to kill video on the Web, and Google as its new owner doesn’t seem to be willing to change course.

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  • Still Seeking Resolution to Search Competition Issues

    Posted by Dave Heiner
    Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

    Two years ago, Microsoft applauded the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission when they opened their antitrust investigations into Google’s business practices. We believed then, as we do now, that the future of competition in search is at stake in these investigations. This is important not just for Microsoft, but for the thousands of smaller companies whose businesses depend on a competitive search marketplace. That is why so many companies have made their concerns about Google’s misconduct known to regulators on both sides of the Atlantic.

    The European Commission has stated publicly that Google must address four areas of concern regarding its business practices, or else it will face enforcement action. We understand that the European Commission and Google are working toward a binding, enforceable legal order that would address these competition law concerns.

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  • Our Licensing Deal with Samsung: How IP Drives Innovation and Collaboration

    Posted by Brad Smith & Horacio Gutierrez
    General Counsel & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

    Today, Microsoft announced a patent cross-licensing agreement with Samsung that will provide coverage under Microsoft’s patent portfolio for Samsung’s mobile phones and tablets. The agreement also gives both companies greater patent coverage relating to each other’s technologies, and opens the door to a deeper partnership in the development of new phones for the Windows Phone platform.

    In the context of all the attention intellectual property matters have received in recent months, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on the meaning and impact of these agreements. The Samsung license agreement marks the seventh agreement Microsoft has signed in the past three months with hardware manufacturers that use Android as an operating system for their smartphones and tablets. The previous six were with Acer, General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo, Velocity Micro, ViewSonic and Wistron.

    Together with the license agreement signed last year with HTC, today’s agreement with Samsung means that the top two Android handset manufacturers in the United States have now acquired licenses to Microsoft’s patent portfolio.

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  • Microsoft Letter to DREAM Act Sponsors

    April 3, 2009 The Honorable Richard Durbin United States Senate 309 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 The Honorable Richard Lugar United States Senate 306 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Dear Senator Durbin and...
  • Competition Authorities and Search

    Posted by Dave Heiner Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Government competition agencies are increasingly focused on Google’s growing power in search and online advertising. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice...
  • Helping people protect their Hotmail accounts

    Posted by Walter Harp
    Director of Product Management, Windows Live

    Over the past few months, Windows Live has announced several new security features that will provide additional account protection for people on Hotmail, including Single Use Codes, Full Session SSL, SMS-based account recovery, and Trusted Senders – this all in addition to our SmartScreen safety filter, which helps protect people against phishing and malware.  You’ll see even more from us in the weeks ahead.

    In the last two years, consumer webmail and social networking services across the web have experienced an increase in the incidence of hijacking, which occurs when someone illegally gains access to another person’s account – email, social profile - and then uses that account for malicious activity. In a typical scenario, hackers will hijack large numbers of accounts and then use those accounts to send spam or social invites to the victims’ friends or others on the victims’ contact lists. 

    As two security experts from Google and Microsoft discussed yesterday on the video embedded in this blog, no consumer email or social networking service is immune to this challenge.

  • Google’s misleading security claims to the government raise serious questions

    Posted by David Howard
    Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel

    Last Friday afternoon, I learned that a batch of court documents had been unsealed and had revealed one particularly striking development: the United States Department of Justice had rejected Google’s claim that Google Apps for Government, Google’s cloud-based suite for government customers, has been certified under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). Given the number of times that Google has touted this claim, this was no small development.

    How did this all come about? Last year, the Department of the Interior selected Microsoft offerings for its new cloud-based email system. In October, Google responded by suing the Government. As a result, the work of engineers and IT professionals was replaced, at least temporarily, by filings by lawyers. This meant significant delay for the Department of the Interior, which was trying to save millions of dollars and upgrade the email services for its 88,000 employees. Google announced its lawsuit with a proclamation of support for “open competition.” It then touted the security benefits of Google Apps for Government. Google filed a motion for a preliminary injunction telling the court three times in a single document (see pages 18, 29, & 37), that Google Apps for Government is certified under FISMA.

    Google has repeated this statement in many other places as well. Indeed, for several months and as recently as this morning, Google’s website states, “Google Apps for Government – now with FISMA certification.” And as if that’s not sufficient, Google goes farther on another webpage and states "Google Apps for Government is certified and accredited under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)."

    Read more...

  • The FTC and Google: A Missed Opportunity

    Posted by Dave Heiner
    Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

    The FTC took steps today to address some of Google’s improper business practices. We find it troubling that the agency did not adhere to its own standard procedures that call for the agency to obtain industry input on proposed relief and secure it through an enforceable consent decree. The FTC’s overall resolution of this matter is weak and—frankly—unusual. We are concerned that the FTC may not have obtained adequate relief even on the few subjects that Google has agreed to address.

    Data Portability

    For years Google has publicly championed the virtues of “data portability”—the idea that customers ought to be able to use their own data in products from various companies. But in practice, Google effectively prohibited its primary paying customers (advertisers) from using data about their own advertising campaigns on any ad platform other than Google’s. That made it much more difficult and costly for advertisers (especially small advertisers) to run their ad campaigns on Bing and other ad platforms.

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  • Improving Global Patents: Think Locally, Act Globally

    Posted by Horacio Gutierrez Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel In early August, David Kappos was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office...
  • Appreciating our Immigration System

    UPDATE: April 1, 2009 - 10:30 a.m. Pacific Posted by Brad Smith General Counsel As I mentioned in my post Monday, today begins the period for U.S. employers to apply for H-1B visas for high-skilled foreign workers. Given the economic downturn...
  • Supporting Relief Efforts in Haiti

    Posted by Akhtar Badshah Senior Director, Global Community Affairs The earthquake in Haiti is an absolute tragedy. I clearly remember the precise moment when the Tsunami struck Indonesia in 2004 and how that set in motion a chain of events that...
  • Advancing Consumer Trust and Privacy: Internet Explorer in Windows 8

    Posted by Brendon Lynch
    Chief Privacy Officer, Microsoft

    Today, Microsoft announced Windows 8 has reached Release Preview and Internet Explorer 10 in Windows 8 will have “Do Not Track” (DNT) on by default. This post includes additional thoughts about this important milestone in our effort to advance trust and consumer privacy online. Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 will be the first browser to have DNT on by default. Consumers can change this setting, but the default will be to send the DNT signal to websites that consumers visit.

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  • Cracking Down on Botnets

    Posted by Tim Cranton Associate General Counsel Botnets - networks of compromised computers controlled by hackers known as “bot-herders” - have become a serious problem in cyberspace. Their proliferation has led some to worry that the...
  • Microsoft and the European Commission

    UPDATE: January 17, 2009, 10:15 a.m. Pacific -- The European Commission has commented on the Statement of Objections it sent to Microsoft Thursday. You can read the full text on the Commission’s Web site . Posted by David Bowermaster Administrator...
  • Why hold a hearing in the EU if key decision makers are unable to attend?

    By Dave Heiner Vice President and Deputy General Counsel For as long as I’ve been at Microsoft (since 1994), there has always been keen interest in the antitrust issues raised by the success of Windows. Interest peaked after we included a...
  • Consumer Product and Service Agreement Updates

    Posted by Tim Fielden
    Assistant General Counsel, Microsoft

    Microsoft, like other businesses, relies on user agreements that we ask consumers to read and accept before using our products and services. We revise and update these agreements over time. This post discusses a change we have begun making as we update user agreements across our consumer products and services.

    Microsoft is updating user agreements across its consumer products and services.

    When a customer in the United States has a dispute about a Microsoft product or service, many of our new user agreements will require that, if we can’t informally resolve the dispute, the customer bring the claim in small claims court or arbitration, but not as part of a class action lawsuit. Many companies have adopted this approach, which the U.S. Supreme Court permitted in a case it decided in 2011. We made this change to our terms of use for Xbox LIVE several months ago, and we will implement similar changes in user agreements for other products and services in the coming months as we roll out major licensing, hardware or software releases and updates.

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  • Do Not Track in the Windows 8 Setup Experience

    Posted by Brendon Lynch
    Chief Privacy Officer, Microsoft

    With Windows 8’s recent release to manufacturing, we know many people are interested in how customers will discover Do Not Track (DNT) in Internet Explorer 10. DNT will be enabled in the "Express Settings" portion of the Windows 8 set-up experience. There, customers will also be given a "Customize" option, allowing them to easily switch DNT "off" if they'd like.

    This approach is consistent with Microsoft's goal of designing and configuring IE features to better protect user privacy, while also affording customers control of those features. It also underscores that the privacy of our customers is a top priority for Microsoft.

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